She is so different from what I was like as a child when it comes to eating.
I was picky.
I mean no peas, no seafood, no mushrooms, no squash, no onions, no tomatoes, no green peppers- picky.
But here I am as an adult and I eat a HUGE range of foods. Still no seafood or mushrooms, but I give almost everything else a shot. So as a mom, it was my goal to let Quinn experience a wide variety of foods and not just assume that she wouldn’t like them because she is a baby or because I hated them as a child. I figured at some point though, I would have to do some sort of convincing to get her to eat a vegetable or two (or three.) So far, I haven’t. Not for ANYTHING.
Of course, she is only one. The Terrible Twos aren’t called that for no reason. I am sure we will hit some sort of road block. For now, I just keep letting her eat anything her little heart desires. We haven’t found a food she won’t eat, yet and I can’t help but pat myself on the back a little bit for that accomplishment.
I realize that not all kids are alike. Some have major food aversions or allergies. There is no cookie cutter mold or perfect example of what you should be doing as a parent. Only you know what is best for your child. I just feel like doing these simple things has helped us raise a child who (SO FAR) eats everything.
Invite your kids into the kitchen
I know kids can make dinner time less smooth, but invite them in to be a part of the process. I like to pull Quinn’s high chair up near the counter and give her utensils, cans I might need, etc and then as I need them I ask her to hand them to me. I also talk to her about the food and what I am doing. I say things like, “Now we have to cut the chicken up so we can cook it.” “Let’s mix the sauce with our spoon.”
Messy, I know. But if you are always telling a kid not to touch or don’t make a mess, they will naturally resist the food later on. I let Quinn have small bits within reason. For example, if I am making a spaghetti squash dish, I give her a few “noodles” on her tray to explore with. She will naturally want to try them, especially if she sees me take a small bite or let her pretend to feed me.
This can be hard to get used to. It seems that dinner time is always the busiest and moms tend to just pick at a plate while multitasking rather than sitting down at the table. I try to give Quinn the tools and “play” food while I finish cooking, then I make our plates and we sit down as a family. She sees that I have the same food as she does, so there is no game of, “I’m not going to eat this when I can have THAT, mom!”
Just because baby food jars are bland, doesn’t mean you can’t give babies spices. There are some things you should be cautious of (honey, salt, etc) but babies LOVE to taste their food. When you can, add fresh herbs and spices to give your child a palate for flavor. It’s also healthier to use your own seasonings and spices. You can even let your child pretend to shake the spices on their food as a way to practice imitation.
Your child might always prefer fruit to veggies, or maybe cheese to fruit, but don’t give up. It often takes multiple exposures (15+) to certain foods before the flavor and/or texture become preferred. There have been nights that Quinn decided she wants more beans and couldn’t care less about her cottage cheese. I don’t force it. Other nights, she decides she could live off cottage cheese. She’s a woman… it’s her prerogative to change her mind.
If you have a newborn, I hope this gives you some ideas to begin ASAP as it is never too early to start sharing the environment with your baby. If your child is older and you are struggling, please feel free to leave comments below so I can help. (Remember, I once worked with children with food aversions, but after intervention, that was no longer the case.)
What is your LO’s favorite food? Most despised food?
What is your meal time routine?
Do you have a trick to share?
What age did your child go through a LOVE IT ALL/HATE IT ALL stage?